Sony Pictures has revealed the star of the upcoming Venom film: Tom Hardy. The British actor previously portrayed DC villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and is now crossing over to the Marvel-side of things to bring Spider-Man’s symbiote anti-hero nemesis back to the big screen.
The character’s last film appearance was in Spider-Man 3 (2007), where he was portrayed by a horrifically miscast Topher Grace and then jammed in a hectic three-villain plot, which ultimately set back the prospects of producing a Venom spin-off for several years. The addition of Hardy as well as director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) opens up a lot of opportunities for the Venom character to shine going forward.
Fans of the superhero genre may know that Sony now shares the rights to the Spider-Man franchise with Disney’s Marvel Studios. With Sony’s Venom franchise, the character won’t intersect with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, meaning he won’t be mashed into a film with the Avengers in the future. This is a good thing, as it allows Fleischer and Hardy to portray a more gritty image of the anti-hero, in a similar vein to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.
Venom’s backstory has been fleshed out vividly since his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (1988). An alien symbiote that binds itself to a human host, the hybrid known as Venom was born when the creature first attached itself to Peter Parker. Parker eventually rid himself of the alien life form, and the parasite moved on to its most famous custodian, Eddie Brock. Brock isn’t the latest character to become Venom in the comics, but most fans will cite him as the most memorable of Venom’s hosts.
In the comics, Brock was originally a journalist who accused the wrong individual of being a wanted serial killer. Spider-Man eventually apprehended the real killer, destroying Brock’s credibility and leaving him depressed and suicidal. When he pairs with Venom, Brock and the creature set out on a mutual quest to enact revenge on the webslinger. Hardy’s credentials make him a perfect fit for Brock, at least on paper, because he has a history of playing similar roles (see: Mad Max: Fury Road).
The anti-hero genre in films and television has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so, most recently with the success of Ryan Reynold’s portrayal of Wade Wilson/Deadpool in Deadpool (2016). Hardy won’t go the same route as Reynold’s Deadpool, but Venom has always had an element of dark and morbid humor that he should be more than capable of bringing to the Venom universe.
A darker route is where the true potential of Venom lies, as the character has been fleshed out over the years as a struggling yet often righteous free-agent. A tortured soul with a fractured sense of morality, Venom has fought both with and against Spider-Man on both sides of the law. He’s also spawned a more sinister offspring, Carnage, a serial killing symbiote that often finds itself at odds with Venom. We don’t have a lot of information on the plot of the film just yet, but it wouldn’t be a bad choice to feature Carnage as the film’s antagonist. It would provide an interesting opportunity to parallel Venom’s struggling anti-hero with the darker sociopathic tendencies of Carnage.
So far, no other names have been dropped by anyone involved with the film, so it’s unclear as to who will play the supporting characters. We also don’t know much about the film’s plot, though Sony is likely to consider a lot of fan input with whatever direction they choose to take the franchise. We also don’t know if Spider-Man will make an appearance in the film. If Fleischer and the writers decide to go for an origin-story plot, then he will definitely need to play at least a minor role. If they skip that and go for a more story-driven film, it’ll be interesting to see who the antagonist ends up being. We’ll know more as we head into 2018.